At 15 years old, our biggest accomplishments were making varsity. Catherine Bellis not only made the U.S. Open, but became the youngest girl to win a match since 1996—she beat the number 12 seed, Dominika Cibulkova.
Bellis earned a wild card into the tournament by being the youngest girl to win the 18’s national championships since Lindsay Davenport won in 1991. Ranked 1,208 in the world, Bellis played with the energy and ease of a seasoned pro, even when she was down 3-1. “I went into the match thinking it was going to be such a great experience, but I never thought I would come out on top winning,” the California native told NY Daily News.
And it was a solid win. Cibulkova did not break down or play badly—Bellis was fearless and nailed her shots, painting the lines and executing beautiful volleys. Her success came down to mental toughness: "I just told myself calm down and don’t think about who you’re playing and who’s on the other side of the court. Just think about your tennis. Just be free. It doesn’t matter. You have nothing to lose.” We can’t wait to see what she does in her next match against Zarina Diyas tomorrow.
Did you see the match? Will you tune in tomorrow to watch? Tell us your thoughts about this talented teen in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.